Content Reviewed by Cameron Bolish, M.Ed., CEO of PaRC

Despite common misconceptions, individuals rarely begin their treatment and recovery journey from substance use without proper detox. Detox is the process of ridding the body from the reminisce of alcohol and other drugs. In other words, it is the process of withdrawing an individual from active substance use.

Many people wonder whether detox is a process that can be completed at home. Due to the dangers and lack of effectiveness associated with detoxing at home, it is essential to understand that individuals should complete the detox process in a supervised medical setting. Here, we will bring awareness to different factors when contemplating whether or not to detox at home.

Understanding the Prevalence of Substance Use

Unfortunately, there is a high prevalence of substance use and addiction in the United States. Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, provided by SAMHSA, state that 40.3 million people aged 12 or older had substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. Of those people, 28.3 million struggled with alcohol use disorder, and 18.4 million struggled with an illicit drug use disorder. Since substance use and SUD are increasingly common, it is more important than ever to acknowledge the importance of detox and encourage others to go about it the most effectively.

Why is Drug and Alcohol Detox Necessary?

One of the most common questions about detox is whether or not it is necessary to recover from alcohol and drug use successfully. Detox is essential because your body may experience overwhelming withdrawal symptoms as it weans off or quits substance use. Every time you engage in substance use, your body becomes more accustomed to the chemical effects of the drug being used. Over time, through repeated use, the chemistry of your brain adapts to the chemical surges that result from substance use, causing your brain to crave the substance and its associated effects—thus beginning the cycle of addiction.

To effectively stop using alcohol or other drugs and begin recovery, you must clear substances from your system. Withdrawal symptoms are to be expected, however, quitting substance use cold-turkey can result in potentially unmanageable side effects, including:

  • Moderate to severe feelings of restlessness, anxiety and irritability
  • Lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Poor concentration and judgment
  • Increased sensitivity to sensations like sound or light
  • Delusions, paranoia and delirium
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia
  • Fatal outcomes

Without proper medical detox, an individual submits to the belief that their substance use and addiction are still within control. However, addiction is characterized by a loss of control over substance use. To successfully recover from addiction, an individual must recognize their inherent need for substance use treatment, which involves detox. Detox can help you manage these side effects and keep your brain chemicals as balanced as possible as you stop your substance use.

Detox Services for Substance Use

Every treatment facility offers a detox program unique to its treatment regimen. Some facilities provide multiple detox programs, which help to individualize patient care. In general, there are two popular detox programs. Before making an effective decision for your detox journey, it is important to research specific treatment facilities about the unique detox services they offer, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or transitional programs.

Inpatient Detox

Inpatient detox requires a patient to receive medically supervised services at a treatment facility. Staff is available 24/7 and helps keep patients comfortable as they experience inevitable withdrawal symptoms. Similarly, patients must adhere to certain treatment restrictions. Once a patient has completed detox in an inpatient program, treatment staff can help transition patients into a best-fit care program based on their recovery needs and treatment goals.

Outpatient Detox

Outpatient detox allows a patient to regularly visit a treatment facility and receive treatment while living at home. Outpatient detox treatment sessions require daily attendance, sometimes as short as 15 to 30 minutes, for an average of three to 14 days. Fewer restrictions mean greater responsibility, which can be challenging for someone attempting to achieve long-term sobriety.

The Dangers of Detoxing from Drugs of Alcohol at Home

Despite detoxing at home seeming like an inexpensive and effective treatment option, there are various dangers associated with detoxing at home. If the severity of withdrawal symptoms alone is not convincing enough, it is essential to recognize the high risk of relapse that often accompanies detoxing at home.

Treatment not only helps individuals to identify their underlying causes for repeated substance use, but it also helps patients to sustain their long-term sobriety in several ways:

  • By challenging negative thought and behavior patterns
  • By learning healthy, effective coping strategies
  • By getting connected with sober support networks
  • By talking with others going through a similar experience
  • By establishing a long-term treatment plan
  • By proactively preventing relapse

Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) is an addiction treatment facility that recognizes how vital detoxification is for one’s treatment and recovery process. Our detox program provides 24/7 care for adolescents and adults seeking healing from the effects of their substance use. We offer programs for individuals ages 13 and older for detox and short-term and long-term treatment. To learn more about our detox program, call us today at (713) 939-7272.